By Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA â€” BARELY five months to the end of the year, the Senate yesterday approved a budget of N128.492 billion for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) up from the N96.6 billion proposed by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
Speaking after the Senate passage of the budget, the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, called for strict implementation of the budget as he blamed the underdevelopment of the oil-producing region on poor budget implementation.
Chairman of the Senate committee on NDDC, Senator James Manager, on his part lamented the late submission of the Commissionâ€™s budget, warning that the Senate would no longer tolerate late presentations of the budget to the National Assembly.
The 2009 budget of the NDDC was passed following the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta at the Senate session yesterday.
Presenting the report, Senator Manager said the increase was based on projections of cash flows from oil companies and the internally generated revenue of the commission.
He said oil companies would be expected to contribute N55 billion as against the N45 billion earlier projected by the President.
He said, â€œThe increase is informed by the economic reality in the sector taking into consideration expansions in the activities of the oil companies and the needs of the area. The increase is reflected on the overall expenditure profile to enable the Commission effectively take care of the infrastructural projects provided for in the budget in line with the large Niger Delta Development Master Plan.â€
But before the passage of the budget, Senator Nimi Bariagha-Amange drew the attention of the Senate to the inclusion of two non-existing projects in the budget and also expressed concern over poor implementation of the NDDC budget.
He said, â€œI want to observe poor implementation of projects. I also observe that some projects do not exist and they have appeared in 2007, 2008 and now in 2009 budget. For example internal road in Nembe, Bayelsa does not exist. Unity Bridge does not exist.â€
The President of the Senate, Senator David Mark who called for strict implementation of the budget blamed prolonged underdevelopment of the Niger Delta region on poor implementation of NDDC budget.
â€œNinety percent of problem of Niger Delta is lack of implementation of the NDDC budget. I hope those on ground will implement this budget as passed and strictly too.â€
Speaking after the Senate approval, Senator Manager expressed concern on the repeated delay in the presentation of the NDDC budget to the National Assembly. He said the Senate would no longer tolerate such delays which he said had become habitual.